(The Center Square) – This week, the federal government begins to issue checks to millions of families as part of the expanded Child Tax Credit initiative Congress passed as part of a COVID relief bill earlier this year. It’s a program some in New York’s congressional delegation want to see extended.
The child tax credit gives families up to $3,600 for each child younger than 6 and $3,000 for kids between the ages of 6 and 17. The maximum amount is available for single filers making up to $75,000, heads of households who earn up to $112,500 and married couples with incomes of up to $150,000.
The checks work out to $250 to $300 per child through December.
The previous child tax credit was up to $2,000 per child 16 or younger, and that amount was available to married couples making up to $400,000 or individuals making no more than $200,000.
The payments start going out on Thursday, and families will receive half of the credit in monthly payments through the rest of the year, with the remainder claimed as part of their tax return next year.
“Congress expanded this credit in March as part of the American rescue plan, so that hardworking families could get more relief, and get it sooner,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said at a news conference last week promoting the program.
Families can also go to the IRS website and change their status so they can take the full credit on their 2021 return.
Advocates for the expanded child tax credit program say it’s a way to improve the financial condition of more families and lift more kids out of poverty. The American Rescue Plan only expanded the child credit for 2021, but proponents say they’re hopeful they can extend the program for more years, if not make it permanent.
At the news conference with Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the expansion is part of the Build Back Better plan the Biden administration is pushing Congress to pass. That initiative includes the American Families Plan, which would extend the expanded tax credits for five more years.
Schumer said he wouldn’t mind a longer extension.
“Many of us would like to make it permanent, but we're going to extend it,” he said.
According to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, nearly 3.6 million kids in New York would benefit from a permanent expansion of the credit program, including 1.6 million children whose families previously did not qualify for the $2,000 credit.
That includes 250,000 children whose households would be lifted out of poverty and another 431,000 whose households would come closer to the poverty line.